Amidst the rising coronavirus threats, the annual tech, music, and film event, SXSW, got cancelled by the authorities, just a week before it was set to be held in Austin from March 13-22. Known as South by Southwest, this year was the 34th edition of the event which saw a number of high profile companies including Netflix, TikTok, Facebook pulling out of the event in wake of the rising coronavirus cases in the world.
As per the latest data provided by the Johns Hopkins University, the coronavirus has infected more than 100,000 people globally and killed more than 3,300 people.
SXSW cancellation will economically hit hard Austin
The event, cancelled for the first time ever, is one of the major fund generators for Austin and its residents. Announcing the cancellation of the event, Austin Mayor Steve Adler said that the festival was cancelled in wake of the growing health concerns and major speakers and companies withdrawing their participation from the event.
"Based on the recommendation of our public health officer and our director of public health, I've gone ahead and declared a local disaster in the city and associated with that, have issued an order that effectively cancels SXSW," he said during a press conference. So far more than 300 people in US have been diagnosed with coronavirus.
SXSW had revealed last year that the event pumps in millions of dollars in the city's economy through the sales of tickets and tourists attending the event. In 2019, SXSW earned a whopping $355.9 million for Austin. With the event standing cancelled, it would be a major hit to the city's revenue earning capacity.
Organisers hint the possibility of reorganising the event later this year
In a statement issued on its official twitter handle, the organisers of the event while stating that they were following the Mayor's order in cancelling the event, said that they were working through the ramifications of this unprecedented situation.
"As recently as Wednesday, Austin Public Health stated that there's no evidence that closing SXSW or any other gatherings will make the community safer. However, this situation evolved rapidly, and we honour and respect the City of Austin's decision. We are committed to do our part to help protect our staff, attendees, and fellow Austinites," read the statement.
Hinting at the rescheduling of the event at a later date, the statement said: "We are exploring options to reschedule the event and are working to provide a virtual SXSW online experience as soon as possible for 2020 participants, starting with SXSW EDU. For our registrants, clients, and participants we will be in touch as soon as possible and will publish an FAQ."
According to The Verge much before the event was formally cancelled by the Austin's Mayor, a lot of companies and prominent speakers including Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey had announced their withdrawal from the event. Leading media houses, content producers and social media platforms including Amazon, Apple, Netflix, Facebook, TikTok, LinkedIn, CNN, and Mashable had withdrawn from the event citing health concerns and non-essential travel restrictions.